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Boeing thinks the EA-18 Growler is the most likely version to be purchased by the US

One of the staples U.S. Navy for a number of years has been the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter. However, reports indicate that the new U.S. defense budget that is set to be unveiled next month has no allowance for purchasing new versions of the fighter.
New purchases of the electronic attack version called the EA-18G Growler are also nonexistent. Some in Washington want to continue to purchase the aircraft with a $75 million defense appropriations bill that would call for the purchase of 22 new aircraft. Boeing, the maker of the Super Hornet, also wants the military to purchase more EA-18G aircraft.

The Hornet has been around since the 1970's and replaced the F-14 Tomcat and A-6 Prowler. When the last orders are completed, the Navy will have 563 Super Hornets and 138 Growlers. The current orders will have production of the aircraft continuing through 2016.
Boeing says that 90,000 full time jobs around the country are dependent on Super Hornet production, and the company is currently shopping the jet to foreign nations now. Boeing had hoped to court Brazil with the purchase of 36 Super Hornets, but concerns over the NSA’s spying program led the Latin American country into the arms of Sweden and its Saab JAS-39 Gripen NG.
The existing Super Hornets will be supplemented by the troubled (and expensive) F-35 Lightning II for U.S. Navy duties.

Source: Defense News

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By NAVAIR on 2/18/2014 11:05:36 AM , Rating: 2
The Super Hornet was always a stop gap for the JSF (F-35) development. Additionally The Hornet F/A-18 (A, B, C, D) is compently different aircraft than the Super Hornet F/A-18 (E, F, G.) Larger airframe, 2 additional hard points and more JP5.

By NAVAIR on 2/18/2014 11:14:41 AM , Rating: 2
The selling point of the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) is one airframe program, common parts, instead of 3 different airframe programs (F/A-18, F-16, F-14D.) The remaining, F/A-18F's will sometime in the future be retrofitted to F/A-18G's although this is speculation on my part since I am out of the loop now.

By sorry dog on 2/18/2014 11:48:58 AM , Rating: 2
The remaining, F/A-18F's will sometime in the future be retrofitted to F/A-18G's although this is speculation on my part since I am out of the loop now.

I wouldn't see this as likely unless part of an airframe life extension program, as that will require planes to go back to the factory to be completely stripped, but who knows... the riveter who put the skins on B52's probably never thought his rivet would have to hold on until his great grandkids were flying them...

By NAVAIR on 2/18/2014 2:15:53 PM , Rating: 2
Hornet/Super Hornet high time is based on sensors that electronically measure airframe fatigue. The frame itself can replaced, its a big tube and they have the jigs to replace it, the rest of the airframe is composite. The some of the early A and B Hornets are still flying, its just a matter of need and cost to replace the "tube." Zero timing coventional airframes is more costly, because they were never designed to be zero timed in the first place. We used to screw with the Hornet guys about their plastic jets...

By gamerk2 on 2/18/2014 2:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, only the last two models of the 52 (made in the 70's) are still flying; the older airframes are all retired.

By DanNeely on 2/18/2014 2:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt it. The F-18G fills a completely different role from the F18F and the Navy has all the Growlers it needs; in addition they've got older airframes and will likely be worn out first as a result. If anything, continued delays/cost cutting in the F-35 program is likely to result in the Super Hornet getting a round of upgraded avionics, radar, and EW systems.

By NAVAIR on 2/18/2014 2:16:43 PM , Rating: 2
So all the Prowlers are gone now?

By DanNeely on 2/19/2014 12:00:44 PM , Rating: 2
Not yet. Wikipedia indicates that several USN and all USMC EA6B squadrons are still using the Prowler (although most of the USN ones were converted to Growlers as of the last article update); and the 22 aircraft in the proposed final order would be enough to replace about half of the remaining Growlers in service. The navy also indicates that the Growler will be operational through 2015. I don't know if that means they intend to retire the last in 2015, or just that no plans exist beyond then.

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